Scotland, Please Stay British!


68515-debate-party-leaders-discussed-staging-of-the-2014-referendum

With the Scottish Independence Referendum only just over a week away on 18th September 2014, I wanted to send my plea to Scottish people to vote to stay British! The rest of the United Kingdom loves Scotland and we want you to remain part of it.

Although a lot of the debate has rightly focused on issues such as the economy and currency I have been surprised the discussion hasn’t been more about why do some Scottish people not want to be British anymore and/or what are the benefits of being British?

I’m a British person born and raised in England and have relatives from Scotland on my father’s side of the family. I think being British is great, actually it is awesome, and feel the United Kingdom is unique in combining the individual country states of England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. It means each individual country retains it’s own identity and heritage with Welsh people being as proud of their country as Scots and English people are, but it also means we are also get to be British. The whole is greater than the sum of the parts and by being united we can all reap greater benefits and achieve more. Our countries are individual but yet so entwined together.

It is a long-running partnership ingrained in our culture. No partnerships run smoothly and there will always be issues from time to time that need addressing to ensure fairness and equality. However, when we work together we can solve these.

There are many sporting competitions where we compete as individual nations (football, rugby, etc.) but we also compete together as Great Britain in others too. The 2012 Olympics was a triumph for ‘Team GB’ demonstrating what can be achieved when combining our best talents and resources.

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The Scottish are very rightly proud of their country and their countrymen and women and I am sure if they choose not to be British they will make an independent country work. It won’t be easy and the whole currency issue will need to be resolved. I am sure Scotland will be able to deal with the situation but it make take some time as the plans around this area look decidedly shaky.  Nevertheless, concerns about currency arrangements should not be the only reason for not voting for independence. Although it is a very good reason for some as they may feel it’s not the right time until the plans are more sorted.

I feel the main reason to vote no should be to want to remain British (and European) and a very important part of the United Kingdom. Scotland has it’s own parliament and it’s clear a no vote would see an increase in more powers, but the plans on this too are unfortunately rather vague.

In short, of course Scotland can be an independent country, but that doesn’t mean it should. Staying part of the United Kingdom and retaining its Britishness is special and although it may seem exciting and adventurous to give independence a go, Scottish people may not realise the value of what they have until they lose it.

Stay British Scotland and please vote no on 18th September!


Bed Territory Tactics


Bed Territory Tactics

Dear Knowledgeable Reader,

I need your advice!

We all have strengths and weaknesses and I’ve realised that a real deficiency of mine is in the area known as Bed Terrority Tactics (BTT), i.e. the subtle art of maintaining or acquiring extra space whilst sharing a bed. Whilst awake I am very competent at BTT, but soon as I fall asleep whoever is in my bed is able to take advantage (not like that) and monopolise the bed, even cats!

Several years ago I was staying at my parents in my old room and was frustrated by the lack of space by the single bed. Our lovely old cat Nemo came in during the night, as he often did, to sleep on the bed too. As I was in the bed and aware of his presence he went to sleep parallel to me in what was a good use of the limited space. Cue a few hours later and I wake up somewhat uncomfortable only to realise I am right up against the wall! Nemo was no longer parallel to me, but perpendicular and was clearly enjoying all of the bed.

How did he do this? How was I able to relinquish my territory so easily? I’m not looking to monopolise the bed (maybe this is where I go wrong?), but just want to maintain my share of the bed so I have enough space to be comfortable for mid-sleep position readjustments.

If you have any advice or tips, please let me know as every night I seem to lose the bed territory war. As soon as I fall asleep I apparently wave the white flag for the other party to freely come and invade.

For those of you who sniggered at that last sentence, shame on you, you are better than that. Well …

her side his side duvet covers

dog bed hogging

bed hogging


Your HORRORSCOPE for Next Month (GUEST POST)


by MYSTIC DAVE

Funny signs of the zodiac - rude

I’m an expert astrologer and know all about the zodiac signs and all that shit. Here are your horroscopes for next month, please read them very carefully … or don’t, it’s up to you.

MYSTIC DAVE

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ARIES (21st March – 20th April)
Normally the most annoying star sign, this month you take being a pain in the bottom to new levels. The world doesn’t revolve around you! This month you will be presented with lots of opportunities to be a better person and you will ignore them all.

Your unlucky numbers this month: 1,3, 4, 6,7 … I wouldn’t get excited by 2, 5 and 8 either. Avoid 9s.

TAURUS (21st April – 21st May)
Let’s face it, no one really cares about Taureans anyway, you are even duller than you suspect you really are. This month you will be tempted to try out a new joke, please don’t. Make sure you are accompanied/supervised when making any clothing purchases.

Your unlucky numbers this month: try to avoid numbers this month

GEMINI (22nd May – 21st June)
You really do love yourself don’t you? You’re not as half as clever or funny as you think you are. In fact, you are not funny or clever. Just be thankful you have lots of understanding and patient friends and family. This month you will try to cover up a mistake at work, but everyone will know it was you.

Your unlucky numbers this month: all even numbers

CANCER (22nd June – 22nd July)
Could you just shut up already? Why do you insist on going on and on about something that could be explained in 30 secs. Yes, your colleague is rubbish, yes, your friend let you down, maybe they just did it to get away from your monotonous whining. This month you will meet a stranger but it will be completely inconsequential in your life.

Your unlucky numbers this month: I’m not telling you

LEO (23rd July – 22nd August)
God you’re annoying. Is it really necessary to smile quite so much? You can’t really be that happy all the time. Well, this month you will have to use all your fake-smile powers to cope with the rubbish that is coming your way. If you spent less time smiling and more time concentrating on what you should be doing, life would be a lot easier for you.

Your unlucky numbers this month:- you probably think all numbers are lucky don’t you?

VIRGO (23rd August – 23rd September)
Is Virgo even a proper sign? I’m not sure it really qualifies. But hey ho, I don’t make the rules. In any case, what can I say about your also-ran existence for this month? I’m tempted to tell you that this will be a great month of good fortune and finally getting the recognition you think you will deserve. It won’t happen, of course, ever, but you will stupidly go on thinking it might.

Your unlucky numbers this month: All of them. You are just not lucky, deal with it

LIBRA (24th September – 23rd October)
You can take your easy-going nature and shove it up your bottom. It is okay to show some emotion now and again you know? Or are you a robot as we all suspect? This month you will make a number of errors at work and at home. Simply turn yourself off and on again.

Your unlucky numbers this month: 101110101

SCORPIO (24th October – 22nd November)
I’ve never met a nice Scorpio and I probably wouldn’t like you either. That’s because Scorpios are rubbish and totally up themselves. However, you can sometimes be bearable with a drink in your hand, so maybe do this more this month? Your month is not going to be bad. It’s not going to be good either. It will be a totally average month where nothing important or fun happens.

Your unlucky numbers this month: 1, 2, 7 & 9
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SAGITTARIUS (23rd November – 21st December)
3 words sum you up: Moan, moan, moan. Life isn’t fair, we all know this, so stop you’re moaning and actually try changing your life yourself rather than waiting for others to bestow good things to you. Wise up already. This month you will ignore this horrorscope and moan your boring head off.

Your unlucky numbers this month: it’s not even worth me telling you

CAPRICORN (22nd December – 20th January)
Capricorns constantly ride the line of being competent members of society and people realising they are complete fruit loops. Good news, you won’t be such a head case this month … well, for you anyway, you will still be way nuttier than a bag of spanner-wielding badgers. Avoid speaking wherever possible.

Your unlucky numbers this month: all numbers between 1 and 1,450
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AQUARIUS (21st January – 19th February)
Aquarians are probably the most frustrating people to know. Your artistic and perfectionist qualities mean you are very annoying as you take 3 times as long to do anything, if you ever get around to completing it at all. This month you will start yet another new project you will never finish. Try to avoid promising anything.

Your unlucky numbers this month: half past two

PISCES (20th February – 20th March)
I’m not going to make a joke about you bring fishy, but yet, we can’t deny the fact you are well fishy, like proper fishy, like a stinky fishmonger whose fallen into a big vat of fish after running a marathon. Thank cod, but this month you won’t be quite as selfish as usual (see what I did there?). If you come across an angry dwarf with a knife in a dark alley, run away. Dwarves can be muggers too you racist.

Your unlucky numbers this month: 4, 6 and 12

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most criminal star sign

AQUARIUS - Funny Zodiac Cat Photos (11) ARIES - Funny Zodiac Cat Photos (1) CANCER - Funny Zodiac Cat Photos (4) CAPRICORN - Funny Zodiac Cat Photos (10) GEMINI - Funny Zodiac Cat Photos (3) LEO - Funny Zodiac Cat Photos (5) LIBRA - Funny Zodiac Cat Photos (7) PISCES - Funny Zodiac Cat Photos (12) SAGITTARIUS -Funny Zodiac Cat Photos (9) SCORPIO - Funny Zodiac Cat Photos (8) TAURUS - Funny Zodiac Cat Photos (2) VIRGO - Funny Zodiac Cat Photos (6)


How To Name Your Baby


by Jake McMillan

How to Name Your Baby

I don’t know if it is something to do with hormones or becoming delirious at the prospect of becoming a parent, but often mums-and-dads-to-be lose the plot when it comes to choosing a name for their child.

I have always known my parents to be very sensible and straight forward people (save for some mild silliness now and again) and so was shocked to discover what they almost named me? My name was a compromise choice, being number two on each of their lists. My mum’s first choice was Felix?! She still thinks I should have been called this … which is even more disturbing. Why would I want be named after a tin of cat food?

Then I heard what my Dad wanted to call me … Ludovic???! My parents are both British, so this is a very odd choice. I asked my Dad why and it turned out there was a journalist and broadcaster called Ludovic Kennedy and his friends called him Ludo. My Dad thought Ludo was a cute name for a baby.

baby names

My Dad made the same mistake that most parents do. You shouldn’t name a baby, you are actually naming an adult person who will only be a baby and child for a small proportion of their life.

The impulse for this post has come from some friends who were trying to decide what to name their son. The father is Swedish and the mother British, so name options become even more complex. The father wanted to call his son Vilgot. This may be a great name in Swedish, but in English it sounds like a 17th century venereal disease.

So, the key things you need to do/remember:

1) Your kid will be an adult far longer than they will be a child, so don’t think of a “baby’s” name, think of an adult’s name.

2) Whatever name you choose, other kids will find a way to tease them about it, so try to not to pick a name that makes it too easy for the other kids.

3) 3-syllable names will be difficult for other kids, when very young, to say or pronounce.

4) Think about how the name is thought of internationally or whether it has another meaning? For example, my friend Dom told me his name means King in Portuguese, but in Dutch it means idiot or stupid.

5) Don’t call your son Vilgot.


INTERVIEW: Stefano Buliani (founder of Cloudbase.io)


by Jake McMillan

Stefano Buliani Cloudbase

February 2013

On a stereotypical grey and wet London Sunday afternoon, I persuaded the founder of Cloudbase.io  (a technology service provider to mobile application developers), Stefano Buliani, to take a short break and talk to me about himself and his new venture. Surrounded by laptops, PCs and monitors, I joined him for a cup of tea in his Islington flat.

So would you describe yourself as part techie, part entrepeneur?
In a way yes, but, I am only entrepreneurial out of necessity. As a techie in a big company it is rare you get to do cool stuff, but by setting up my own business, I can do the cool techie things I am interested in.

You’ve been involved in quite a few successful  technology start ups, but this is your first very own venture?
More or less, I get wacky ideas every month about doing some project or business idea, but this is the first that has been developed into a real business. The start ups I have been involved in previously have been successful and they are all still going: Yoda, an Italy-based IT services company (now called Y-Tech); Meganexus, an online secure data sharing and monitoring service and most recently Covestor, an investment management service for people to follow experts in investment management.

Cloudbase.io is a very techie service, is it possible to explain what it is to a lay person?
Haha, yes, it is very techie, the market for Cloudbase.io is developers and entrepreneurs in the mobile phone sector. In simple terms Cloudbase.io is a smart cloud hosting service aimed specifically at mobile application developers. Rather than the developer having to spend a lot of time and money creating and supporting their own infrastructure cloudbase.io offers all of that right out of the box. Sign up and within minutes you are developing your app rather than spending your time configuring servers and writing your own backend code. We’ll take care of everything else.

How long has Cloubase.io been going?
It started last year (2012) and we already have a growing a customer base and support every single mobile platform available. The vision is for it to be the pipes of the mobile application industry.

Cloudbase uses the .io domain, which is set for the British Indian Ocean Territory, why is this?
The .io is actually a very geeky reference to input and output as this is exactly the service that cloudbase.io provides, data goes in and out.

And the name Cloudbase?
This is simply a combination of cloud and database. It has nothing to do with the headquarters in the sky of Spectrum from Captain Scarlet. I’m not THAT geeky.

What are the main benefits of Cloudbase.io?
I have already mentioned the speed to market. So the first point is saving time. No need for them to configure, develop and maintain a backend infrastructure. This means saving both time and money. Developers only have to pay when the app is actually up and running in an application store.

Cloudbase’s scalable infrastructure and will manage the growth and sale for you without requiring you to do any maintenance. If a company wanted to do this on their own it would take a lot of time and would be very expensive. So whether you are a kid developing an app in your garage or a large app development house, we make it easier for you.

Stefano Buliani Cloudbase Interview

Here you are working hard on a Sunday, does this mean you are a workaholic?
[laughs] No, I’m not a workaholic, but I do have a slight problem or case of OCD when I have an idea. I cannot sit still or relax until I have thought it all through or resolved it.

What do you do when you’re not working?
I like to travel, ride motorbikes and go to the pub! I am also involved in a charity (Adventure Ashram) that provides education in rural india and help to organise fundraising events every year.

How is it being an Italian in London?
I love being in London! I’ve been here since 2005 but maybe moving to Vancouver in the future as my partner is from there.

Cloudbase.io is made up of quite an international team isn’t it?
That’s correct, the team come from all over the world. This partly reflects the international nature of London and it is good to be able to draw on global pool of talent. This is important as Cloudbase is a service that is not restricted to a certain country or territory.

I understand that all your IT knowledge is self-taught?
Yes, that’s right. This comes from being an IT geek at high school and I’ve haven’t stopped since!

Do you have any advice or tips for someone starting up their own business?
If you are going to start a business, do it and dedicate yourself to it. However, avoid working from home as it can become an obsession. It can be difficult to get a good work/life balance as you can easily let it take over and you need to find a way to disconnect and switch off. For me, it means not working from home, but going to an office but when I come home, I am going home to relax, not to work.

Who do you look up to?
Steve Jobs, John D Carmack (CTO at ID Software) and a Doctor friend of mine in India.

What kind of boss are you?
I like to think I’m a good boss as people seem to be happy to work for me. I think the team realise I understand techie’s, as I am one, and so gain respect this way. I also give people the freedom to work they want to. I tell them two things, what needs to be done and the delivery date. The rest is up to them, I’m not going to micro manage them.

What 5 things would you take with you to a desert island?
[after quick discussion of which ocean it is in – Pacific is agreed upon] I would take my swimming trunks, my girlfriend and my offroad bike.

But that’s only 3 things and one of those, the swimming trunks, is not entirely necessary?
Those three things will do me nicely [smiles].

Stefani Buliani Cloudbase 1 Stefani Buliani Cloudbase 2 Stefani Buliani Cloudbase 3


10 Great Questions to Ask on a First Date


by Jake McMillan

First Date 1st Date (5)

First dates can be nerve-wracking and awkward at times and even if conversation is free-flowing, it is always good to have some questions in your back pocket just in case there is a stutter in conversation and/or you want to get to know the person a bit better. Internet searches on this subject will bring back a lot of questions to use that are, in reality, not very good as they are trying to be too clever, too relationship-focused or just too lame (e.g. what is your star sign?).

A good question to ask on a first date is one that helps you get to know the other person better in a relaxed manner as well as keeping conversation flowing in an interesting and fun way.

So here are some suggestions of good questions to ask your date:
(note: you don’t need to use all of them, or in any particular order, but do ask them at relevant moments and be ready to answer the question yourself too)

1. What movies do you hate?
Don’t be cynical, asking about movies is really good as it doesn’t seem like a personal question, but actually the movies we love and hate reveal a lot about us. The characters and stories we are drawn to or repulsed by are often quite insightful to our own personalities, our aspirations and our morals. However, if you ask someone what their favourite movie is, they will be put under pressure to say something acceptable and will often say a film they like a lot that is generally perceived to be cool and interesting rather than their actual favourite which is usually a more personal choice.

Asking someone what movies they hate is a much easier and more fun question to answer and can lead very comfortably conversation-wise to movies they enjoy or have seen recently. For example, my answer to this question is ‘Mamma Mia’ and this often leads to great discussion and banter.

2. Who do you admire or look up to?
This seems like a question about someone else, but actually it reveals a lot about the person by highlighting the attributes they have or would like to have themselves. Warning, do not throw this question in willy nilly, make sure it is appropriate/relevant to your conversation or it will seem too obvious you are probing and put the person under pressure.

3. What is your favourite swear word?
I think the more general question of ‘what is your favourite word?’ is a good question, but perhaps more appropriate with friends. On a date, you want to make things interesting, fun and maybe a little bit provocative now and again. How someone answers this question can also be very revealing. Someone more straight-laced may struggle with it, but someone fun and free will get stuck into this question.

My answer to this question is ‘bollocks’, there is just something great about how you can say it. If you have been having flirty conversation, you might answer, for example, by saying that you like a nice ‘fuck’ now and again. Use of the c-bomb should be cautioned, however.

First Date

4. Are your friends with mostly men or women?
This is a good lead into them talking about their friends and the people that are important to them. Also, it can lead to the person talking about how their own gender perceives them. You can follow up with, ‘Who is your best friend?’, ‘Can men and women every really be friends?’. Yes, is the answer to the latter.

5. Do you prefer dogs or cats?
This does seem like a very average mundane/lame question to ask, but it can be a great conversation starter. Their answer actually doesn’t really matter as if you have different views then you can have a fun discussion about why which animal is best. If someone doesn’t like either, then this again reveals something about them. If they do have a preference, then this will lead them onto talking about a favourite pet and this is a good positive emotion to bring out.

6. Do you have a favourite birthday?
This is another positive emotion type question that can really open up a conversation. It will inevitably lead them to describe the birthday and why it was so good (revealing about themselves) as well as leaving lots of great opportunities for follow up questions.

7. Do you remember your first kiss?
This is a good question as I have not come across anyone who does not remember their first kiss and also introduces the thought of the act of kissing in a completely inoffensive way. The first kiss, regardless or whether it was good or bad, is normally a fun and nice memory to talk about and will open the door to related topics.

First Date

8. Do you have bendy ears?
I know, I know, this seems like a mad question, but try it and see it what happens. Some people have more bendy ears (as in they can be folded) as the cartilage in the ear is not as rigid. This is a fun thing to ask and get them to do as if you do it right, then you will get them to feel your ear and/or you feeling them. This is a fun and non-sexual way of introducing bodily contact. It also often leads to demonstrations of other odd things people can do with their bodies.

9. Who do you take after most, your mum or your dad?
This is a good lead into finding out about their family, but also will inadvertently get them to reveal the traits about themselves. If they say a bit of both (which is common) then ask them which traits they get from which.

10. Do you say either (pronounced ‘e-tha’) or either (‘i-tha’)?
This is actually a silly joke question as whatever answer they say, you will answer, ‘but which one?’ If they look confused, follow up with ‘do you say neither (‘knee-tha’) or neither (‘ny-tha’)?’ Although a silly question, how the person responds will show what sort of sense of humour they have.

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Related Posts
10 Things Not To Do On A First Date
Internet First Dates
Bad Things To Say On A First Date (personal experiences)
A New Low In Ridiculous Things To Say On A First Date
Getting The Girl To Pay For Dinner


John Lewis Your Delivery Sucks


by Jake McMillan

Zanussi ZWG5148P Washing Machine

I’ve written a few silly letters in my time, but this time I have a very legitimate complaint about the exceedingly poor delivery service provided by John Lewis.

Mr Lewis,

Do you mind if I call you John?

John, I need to tell you a tale. It starts as an ordinary tale of a man ordering a washing machine and a kitchen tap and ends  … well, this epic tale has only just ended and I’m not sure I have taken it all in yet.

 I live with my wife Judy and have recently taken in her emotionally-challenged sister Maggie. Maggie’s troubles are too numerous and involved to get into, but her arrival a few months ago has caused a massive increase in the use of our ageing washing machine. Hence the order of a new Zanussi ZWG5148P Washing Machine from your website, that and a new kitchen tap.

This online order triggered two delivery phone calls from you. Not from you personally John, of course. The first was to arrange delivery of the washing machine, this would take place sometime between 7am(!) and 1pm. The second call was to arrange the delivery of the tap. The latter was a lengthier call than expected as I was quizzed on what floor I lived on, whether there was parking? a lift? etc. Both items were set to be delivered on the same day.

Delivery day arrived and I arose from a poor night’s sleep (Maggie had been having more of her troubles) eager to receive the new washing machine and for the old one to be taken away. At 10am, the buzzer buzzed and I ran down to see one of your vans with my brand new washing machine.

My happiness was squashed after a short exchange with your burly delivery gents.

“Sorry mate, we don’t deliver to the third floor, you need the 3-man heavy lifting crew who have the proper trolley”.

Maggie’s friend Keith had come over to have some bagels and offered his kind services to help. I enquired if I could borrow your trolley and we could take it up to the flat ourselves? A resolute “No” was the answer. There was concern I would sue if your trolley broke. I said I wouldn’t, but that didn’t seem to be enough.

Further discussion revealed that this trolley could be used to deliver to first floor properties. I persuaded your delivery chaps to take my new washing machine to the first floor and then Keith and I carried it up the remaining two floors and installed it. They couldn’t take away the old one but would arrange for a 3-man crew to come and collect it as soon as possible.

Was this the first washing machine you have delivered in London John? I hate to break it to you, but there are probably millions of the population who live above the 1st floor and so maybe you should perhaps ask about this before organising a delivery? Just a suggestion.

30 minutes later a separate truck of yours arrived. Despite them having all the information on which floor I was on and the location of the car park, I still ended up having to go out on the street to collect the kitchen tap. The delivery man could not find the package in his van and so I was left hopping about in the freezing cold until he eventually located it.

Fast forward three weeks and the old washing machine is still yet to be picked up. I had a missed call and the long rambling voicemail was from one of your colleagues asking to know if the washing machine had been picked up or not as they didn’t have the information? I helped plug this gap in your knowledge and I had another missed call from an unknown/withheld number asking me to call back at “my convenience” to arrange the pickup. Of course, the message didn’t leave a phone number so I couldn’t actually call back. Another missed call supplied this information and a reference. I called back, but apparently there was only one person I could speak to about this and they were not there, but they would call me back.

I did get a call back a couple of days later. I was told that one of your trucks was 3mins away to collect the washing machine?! No one had told me, but I happened to be home that day so all was good. The buzzer buzzed and I ran down again to meet your colleagues.

They ask, “What floor you on?”, “I’m on the 3rd floor”.

“Is there a lift?”, “No, just stairs”.

“Oh, you need the 3 person crew and a special trolley for that”. They drove away quicker than you can say ‘spin cycle’.

Phone calls and apologies ensued and was told this Friday that a 3-man team would come and collect the washing machine. They would come between 7am – 1pm. Despite another night of Maggie difficulties, I was up and ready to receive your colleagues from 6.50am.

In the end, they were only 2 hours late (3pm arrival) and it was simply a joy to watch the professionalism of these three men: one man put the washing machine on the trolley, one stood in front of it just in case and the other chatted to his friend on his mobile.

So thanks John! Thank you for turning something that should have been a very straight forward simple tale into an epic tragedy. Or is it a comedy? I can’t quite figure it out.

Best,

Jake, Judy and Maggie

 

Related Posts:
Service as Quick as Coal
A Complaint About The New Forest
A Complaint About Vagisil


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